All 3 Debates between Lord Krebs and Lord Markham

Children’s Health: Sugar

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Markham
Tuesday 12th September 2023

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Markham Portrait Lord Markham (Con)
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I think one of the things that, hopefully, I have learned in the almost year that I have been answering Questions is when I know the answer to a question and when I do not. I am afraid this is one of the examples of the latter. I will happily look up the Canadian example of the use of whole milk and write to the noble Lord on it.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
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My Lords, I declare my interests, as recorded in the register. I was very pleased to hear the Minister refer to the soft drinks industry levy, which has been a very successful way of reducing sugar consumption in soft drinks. Therefore, do the Government have plans to extend that levy to other products that contain a lot of sugar? That would be a very effective way of reducing sugar consumption.

Lord Markham Portrait Lord Markham (Con)
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The noble Lord is correct; that has been a success story. Overall, we have seen a 46% reduction of sugar, while at the same time sales of drinks in that category have gone up by 21%—that is 60%-plus if you combine the two. We are now looking at other moves that can help. The movement of product positioning to remove the so-called “pester power” is a key step forward in this. Of all the modelling that has been done, that is the thing that it is thought will reduce calories by the most—by 96%. That is the current focus; it has been in place for almost a year and early evidence is that it is working, but as ever we must keep everything under review.

Ultra-processed Food

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Markham
Tuesday 18th July 2023

(1 year ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Markham Portrait Lord Markham (Con)
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Absolutely. Some of the foods are not healthy at all, and we totally want to discourage them. We have taken a lot of steps in that space. The whole product positioning strategy, whereby you cannot now put such foods in places where there will be so called pester-power influences, is beginning to have an effect. We are already seeing healthier foods outgrowing non-healthy foods from that. Those sorts of actions were modelled to show that they were effective for 96% of the things that we are trying to target to reduce in terms of calories.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
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My Lords, I declare my interests as listed in the register and I hate to disagree with my noble friend Lady Boycott but, on this occasion, I do. Does the Minister agree with the conclusions of the nutritional advisory committee of the five Nordic countries, published on 20 June 2023? It says:

“The … committee’s view is that the current categorization of foods as ultra-processed foods does not add to the already existing food classifications and recommendations”.


Does he also agree with the Brazilian scientists who coined the notion of ultra-processed food when they say that their classification is a good way to understand the food system, but not individual foods?

Lord Markham Portrait Lord Markham (Con)
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Yes, the noble Lord is absolutely correct and makes the point that I have been trying to make but far more eloquently; I thank him. That is precisely the point. Some ultra-processed foods are very unhealthy and we should be doing everything we can to discourage them. Others, such as wholemeal bread or baked beans, are totally fine.

Childhood Obesity

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Markham
Monday 17th October 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Markham Portrait Lord Markham (Con)
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I thank and agree with my noble friend. He is correct. The cost of obesity to the NHS amounts to around £6.5 billion a year; obviously, this is in addition to not being very good for the people concerned in terms of healthy lifestyles. That is why we have a programme of action, as I outlined. This is something we feel it is important for us to get on with, not just for children but, as the noble Lord referred to, to help adults in this area as well.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
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My Lords, last year, the Government published a report on the promotion of food. I shall quote a few sentences from it:

“Although promotions appear to be mechanisms to help consumers save money, data shows that they increase consumer spending by encouraging people to buy more than they intended to buy in the first place … The latest data shows that we buy almost 20% more as a direct result of promotions. Consumers typically do not stockpile these extra purchases to take advantage of the lower price, instead they increase their consumption.”


It went on to say that the latest data

“shows that shoppers who buy more of their food and drink on promotion tend to purchase more HFSS”—

high-fat, sugar and salt—

“products, in greater volume, and are more likely to be overweight or living with obesity.”

Does the Minister agree with this analysis, published by his Government last year? If so, what are the Government doing about it in policy terms?

Lord Markham Portrait Lord Markham (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord. The figures to which he refers are a mixture of the pricing of these so-called “buy one, get one free”-type promotions and their positioning in a supermarket. In fact, the data shows that as much as a 50% increase in sales can be driven by where these promotions are placed in a supermarket. That is why the focus now is on what changes will be made on 1 October to reduce the purchase of a lot of the types of food groups we are talking about by moving them away from prominent areas. Once we see the results of those changes, we will be in a position to review some of the pricing and promotions to which the noble Lord refers.